Play Guitar In 7 Days!
Lesson Eight: “When Dreams Dry Up”
Unlike campfire chords, which can only be played next to the nut (the thingy between the fingerboard and headstock; see Lesson 6), a moveable chord shape doesn’t use open strings, and therefore can be transposed to any fret. This is how you can play in non-guitar-type keys, such as F-sharp, the key of “When Dreams Dry Up.” (In foreign languages, such as the German, this key may be called “G-flat.”) Jazz guitarists often use these chords, which explains why they don’t smile; they’re concentrating!
- Notice how easy the change from G#m7 to C#9 is: the 2nd and 3rd fingers barely move! (And the pinky finger is out to lunch.)
- Notice how difficult the change from F#maj7 to F#maj6 is! Only one note changes but three of the fingers have to pack up and move to a different time zone! This would be a breeze on the piano. Oh, well… win some, lose some.
Another name for these moveable chords is “orchestral chords,” because they are typically played by an orchestra, not a guitar. That said, these chords are child’s play for the jazz guitarist; a normal guitarist would do well by adding a few of these to his/her repertoire.
Pro tip: Using old-fashioned harmony and chords can convey irony or kitsch in a song, or even evoke a sense of nostalgia for a time that may or may not have truly existed (the Portuguese have a word for this: saudade).
Moving on up! In this example, we will be using a moveable chord, but adding an additional open string to make a statement: a “clang”!
Place the C7 chord shape on the 4th (wrong) fret; congratulations, you now have a D#7 chord. Pick the strings of the chord from low to high, one at a time (translated from the Italian as “arpeggio“). Now, pick the open 1st string, while the other strings are still ringing out. Clang! We call this a “dissonance”; in this case specifically, a “flat ninth” (as it relates to the D-sharp root).
(Most guitarists, including this one, have a problem with the concept of an open string being a flat anything, so just nod and play along.)
Starting at the first fret, take the C7 chord shape and strum every string but the 6th (notated in the chord grid as an “x,” meaning “don’t play this string”). Move it up the fingerboard one fret at a time, pausing to savor each new chord’s sonority as you strum all of the strings (except for the 6th). Repeat all the way up the fingerboard to the 12th fret.
Q1: On which frets does the chord sound bad? (Hint: most of them should sound good, or at least interesting.) As always, make sure your finger is not muffing the open 1st string (in earlier lessons, the term “quash” may have been used; “muff” and “quash” are synonyms).
Q2: What fret is your favorite one upon which to play this chord? Why? (Be specific.)